Do you hear the quiet? No sound, absolutely no racket, just a peaceful breeze blowing from the west. Placing my chair in the center of the hill this afternoon allowed me to recline restfully without stretched legs absorbing a warm sun in anticipation of more stillness. Not even the birds venture to tweet, afraid that their sound will disturb some cosmic balance. The singular squirrel that scurries from the corner trees that hang to the edge of the hill run very softly on the crisp green grass aware of the unnatural lack of sound.
Along the river in the distance the tall smoke stacks paint a lonely picture on the horizon. Smoke has long since stopped belching its white plume into the sky. The field generates the only movement - corn stalks rustle gently moving their long green arms listlessly searching out bright rays.
Taking a deep breath of clean pure air while looking up at the brilliant blue sky it's easy to comprehend how positive outcomes always accompany negative occurrences. In town there used to be a couple of folks who had asthma: Jerry Tanner and Melanie Johnson, both haven't experience attacks since all went quiet. It's a good thing, because without any medications available if they did start gasping for air it might very well be their last struggle.
Selling what those who have rusting reminders of past activity made is now conducted in the open air, outside town, in the old abandoned drive-in theatre. A "swap meet" or whatever your favorite term for buying used stuff that others don't want any more was always a Saturday morning pass time for those with nothing better to do - that would be all of us easily amused country dwellers. What is different from the carefree stroll that most of us would enjoy before lunch on Saturday is the intense concentration of those who need to locate an important item in the now daily market that is less carefree.
About a month ago a bright glaring light flickered down in the valley where a farmhouse rested. At first it looked like just another burn bin releasing its ash, flames, and short lived dark cloud. Suddenly, a flare rocketed from the farm barely reaching my elevation. This could mean only one thing the farm was on fire.
Right after the quiet started setting in word was passed around of an important meeting that would be held in town to discuss how we would survive when the services ceased. Since land line, cell phones, and the internet were no longer working it was decided that those of us living outside town would shoot our guns in a bang, bang type code or if we were lucky enough to own a flare gun would fire it skyward to signal that we needed help. Running down from the hill towards my house my heart pounded furiously; that could have been my home. Emerging from my yard with boots on and hose in hand I headed back for the hill but upon reaching the crest noticed that only a thin line of smoke was now coming from the direction of where the farmhouse once stood. Yet another friend who'll have to move his family in with neighbors until normalcy returns to this crazed land.
Not an expert in matters of global economics but being astute enough in the business of farming the best I could glean from news reports, internet sources, and the fellows at the Ag Coop was the global economy had begun collapsing about 2 years ago. Supposedly, average folks weren't being paid a decent wage for over 30 years because the money was being kept at the top to pay for CEO and other executive salaries that jumped by more than 600%. So what transpired was a simple desire by those at the top of the heap to keep all the riches (made available by very productive workers) for themselves. If there's one thing I know from farming - no it's from living - you can't expect to get something for nothing. By constantly taking, these slick operators only cut their own throats because the very workers who had their wages lowered or were forced out of their jobs by cheaper workers (outsourcing or the bringing in of Temporary Worker Visa - H1-Bs, L-1s, etc.) could no longer buy what these short sighted businesses had to offer.
Over time each day got quieter than the last. One morning no sound was heard. It was noticeable even in the country where a background din must have hummed along day & night - not one utterance of activity could be discerned. On that day all economies from the swamps of Vietnam to the concrete canyons of New York expired from lack of consumers - the last report came from a newspaper web posting entitled "The Death of the Global Economy". We will remain on our own - at least for now.